Answering Questions

I'm taking a few moments this morning to answer some of the questions which have been collecting dust in my inbox. (It's just virtual dust and for that I'm very grateful because I have way more than enough actual dust in my house. If someone tries to sell you a labradoodle and says he doesn't shed, don't believe him. He sheds great big dust bunnies and they multiply like bunnies, too. But I digress.) Here are some answers to some questions:

Sarah writes: The Along the Alphabet Path unit study looks great and will likely also interest at least one of my three younger daughters as well, but it is a completely different approach to school than we have been taking and I am a little nervous for some strange reason!  Can we just pick up with A week and move on each week from there?  Will the rest of the weeks remain accessible so we can keep moving along, obviously weeks behind you?
I'm using the Alphabet Path with my own children. It's a real-time representation of what we're doing. It is all archived at Serendipity. You can click on the sidebar link under "Categories:  Along the Alphabet Path" and access all the letters so far.  Start with A anytime and move at your own pace:-). As long as you don't move ahead of me, the lessons will be there when you need them.

Lisa writes: Where did you get the wooden figures in your Lent post?
Lisa, they are from Worship Woodworks.

Gnomes_and_gnumbers Collette writes: Where do you get your patterns for your gnomes?  I have a ton of them and they do not look like yours when I try to do them.  Several nature table pictures have been so wonderful and I would love to do that with my 3 homeschool girls but I usually need something as a guide.  Do you have all the pictures of crafting somewhere on your blog or do you follow a certain book?  I would love to know where your materials are purchases as well.  Thanks for any help you can provide.

Collette, there is a tutorial here for making gnomes.These are Katherine's gnomes. My gnomes have painted bodies and felt capes. I think it's nice that they are all a little different--gives them the character of the families who made them! For crafting materials, the sidebar links on the left here under "With an Eye Towards Beauty" should get you started.

Lynn writes: I didn't save all the tea time recipes at Serendipity and now the links are broken, do you have them? Also, what happened to the "Pages" at Serendipity, where all the lessons were in chronological order? And, yesterday, I was working from one plan and when I went back an hour later, the story and the plans were all different.

I had hoped to fix the recipe links before anyone was inconvenienced and I do apologize. I'm working on making sure that all the recipe links work. Because I had a whole lot of lesson revisions to do, I opted to turn my attention there first. Now, all the lessons reflect the use of An Alphabet of Catholic Saints and you will find that the "Faith" section is much fuller and richer. We will still get to know the saints in the Letters from Heaven book, but they will be a part of a bigger selection of saints' stories. My guess Lynn, is that you were working with the lesson at the same time I was working on the lesson. I updated as I wrote. The "Pages" disappeared because I want to have all the links fixed before I go back and redo the "Pages" to reflect the new lessons. Hopefully, I will get to that in the very near future. In the meantime, the "Categories: Along the Alphabet Path" archives is all caught up, with the exception of PDF files and those are coming along.We are also going to add more music, art, and geography very soon, but they will have posts of their own. And if anyone has replacement recipes to send me for broken links, feel free to send them along. I'm a little overwhelmed here;-)

A reader writes:
My biggest fear comes from all the experiences I read about from those who use the CM method. Where in the world do you all find the time to do it all? I suppose this is the part of me that really needs an orderly "show and tell" of what a week of CM looks like. Your book certainly helps, but a sample "grid" of what a day/week is like would really help my brain:-)
And another writes: How in the world do you do it all?

Let's make one thing clear right away: I don't do it all. I don't even know what "it all" is. For everything you see here that I've done, and even just the act of recording what was done, there is something that went undone. I have no magic way to work against the natural laws of time. It's all about choices. I choose to do this instead of that, whatever "this" and "that" are. My prayer is that I leave the right things undone. Sometimes, I think I choose wisely and well; other times, I definitely do not. And those are the times I beg forgiveness and pay the consequences of natural law.

Now, let's look at the fears of a literature-based method. I've tinkered with all sorts of schedules and many of our days are recorded here. A sampling of schedules from the fall is in this post. I'm finding that needs to be tweaked again and when I have the spring schedule hammered out, I'll share that, too. There will be holes in any curriculum. No curriculum includes every good thing. At the end of each and every "school" day, I ask myself if the children read something good and/or listened to me read it to them, and if they wrote something and/or had me record for them, and if they used their brains mathematically at all. If they did, that's a good day--maybe not great, but good. Forward progress was made. The fourth "R" is religion, I know, but much of our learning about God and his Church is not within the confines of the "school" day. I know they will encounter God in the every day living of the liturgy in our home. So, if on a "bare minimum" school day, we do no formal catechesis, I don't worry--we'll still know, love, and serve Him on that day.

Chris writes:"With the alphabet study, is that geared toward first grade or kindergarten? How do you incorporate your lessons to include the older children.I am sure with 8 children you must have some way of combining items instead of using 8 different lesson plans?

There is so much in the Alphabet Path, that there are rabbit trails enough for everyone. My bigger boys aren't drawing fairies or coloring letters. They are doing pages in notebooks for each of the flowers studied. They are also following these botany plans, these herbs studies,  and these botany activities(they are not Boy Scouts; this is just a very comprehensive list of things that every child should know and do regarding plants in their world). They are still studying the pictures with us for picture study. The Lively Language Lessons include both review and advanced grammar concepts. They are thorough and interesting even to my oldest children. We've been studying fairy tales as a literature genre and using written narrations to work on grammar concepts. With the oldest children, I'm also moving from straight narration of a story to literary analysis. And we plan a unit on Tolkein and Lewis to follow the fairy tale unit. When a particular book or assignment stretches across age levels, I combine. When it doesn't, everyone does his own thing. There is plenty here for everyone, each at his own level.

Chris continues: The other thing i was wondering is: Do you have a rhythm of your day posted someplace on the blog site? Would it fall under organization? I really want to incorporate more prayer time for myself and the kids and would love some examples of how it all fits together.
I linked some schedule examples above. For recent thoughts on prayer, you might read this. And here is something from last year.

That's all for now! If I didn't get to your question, I thought it was personal enough that you didn't want a blog answer. Or, I lost it; send it again!